A very fine Louis XVI gilt bronze mounted Paris Porcelain and marble mantle clock of eight day duration, signed in red on the white enamel dial Roque à Paris, the dial with black Roman and Arabic numerals for the hours and minutes and a fine pair of gilt brass hands, the hour hand with a fleur-de-lis pointer. The movement with anchor escapement, silk thread suspension, striking on the hour and half hour on a single bell, with outside count wheel, with free swinging sunburst Apollo pendulum. The case surmounted by armorial trophies composed of a quiver of arrows crossed by a flaming torch, a bow and foliate sprays set upon a black marble plinth flanked by lion head masks upon the clock drum which is suspended between two gilt bronze mounted Paris Porcelain obelisks surmounted by pairs of doves on a sphere, the upper porcelain plaques painted with ribbon-tied dolphins, flaming motifs, cornucopiae and butterflies above female images representing the Four Elements, from left to right: Fire with a flaming cauldron, Water with a pitcher and dolphin, Air with butterflies on a mountain top and Earth wearing a turreted crown and holding an orb and sword accompanied by cornucopiae and a child, each obelisk on a shaped plinth on a shaped base set with six ringed pilasters on turned feet
Paris, date circa 1775-80
Height 55.5 cm, width 41 cm, depth 19 cm.
Literature: Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, “Vergoldete Bronzen”, 1986, p. 253, pl. 4.6.29, illustrating a pen and ink design for a case of very similar design of circa 1780 in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. Jean-Dominique Augarde, “Les Ouvriers du Temps”, 1996, p. 394, pl. 288, illustrating an almost identical clock, likewise signed Roque à Paris but in black and with personifications of the Four Continents on the lower sections of the obelisks.
The maker of the clock Jean Léonard Roque (d. after 1789), who was appointed Horloger du Roi and was an ingenious mechanic, specialised in the production of luxury clocks. As here he installed high quality movements housed in highly decorative cases such as a remarkable pair of matching of gilt bronze and marble clock and calendar vases, (made for the marquis de Brunoy 1774, now Rothschild Collection Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire). Other luxury clocks also incorporated revolving bands, for instance one showing full calendar indications and signs of the zodiac within a clock representing ‘Great Britain and Mars Reposing’ (illustrated in Augarde, op. cit. p. 237; Madame Lelong sale May 1903).
Roque’s ingenuity owed much to his early training; he was firstly a pupil of the mechanical expert Alexis Magny (1712- d. after 1793) and then worked as an assistant to Claude-Siméon Passemant (1702-69). During this period Roque made the mechanisms for Passemant’s pair of moving globes (1759, supplied to the marquis de Marigny who offered them to the King); he also made the mechanisms for Passemant’s extraordinary ‘Creation of the World’ clock, with case by F-T Germain (1754, Musée du Château de Versailles). Roque worked for Passemant until the latter’s death in 1769; a few months later he was received as a maître-horloger, having already obtained lodgings, thanks to Passemant, in the Vieux Louvre within the Colonnades building. He was later in the Passage du Saumon, 1772-89.
As Horloger du Roi, Roque supplied clocks to Louis XV and his daughters Mesdames Victoire and Adelaïde as well as Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. He was also patronised by the comte de Provence, the duc de Polignac, the marquis de Brunoy, MM. Beaujon and de Boulogne. All would have delighted in his ingenious mechanisms as well as his fine cases, which were supplied by such brilliant masters such as Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain, François Vion, Jean-Louis Prieur, Nicolas Bonnet, François Rémond and Beaucourt. Despite his illustrious patronage Roque appears to have gone bankrupt c. 1785-6, but probably through the intervention of the Châtelet and his appointment as pensionnaire du Roi in 1786 he continued working up until the beginning of the Revolution. His work can be found in many fine collections including the Musée du Louvre and National des Techniques in Paris, Musée Paul Dupuy Toulouse, the Hermitage Museum Saint Petersburg, the Huntingdon Collection San Marino in California and in the Swedish Royal Collections.